On February 27, 2014 – as patent reform bills make their way through Congress – Senator Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.) introduced S. 2049, a bill narrowly targeted at making vague demand letters from patent assertion entities more transparent.  Read the official press release here or take a look at the original version of the bill itself here. The bill is co-sponsored by Senator Jay Rockefeller (D-W.Va.).

In addition to establishing minimum disclosures for patent demand letters, the bill would direct the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) to promulgate rules prohibiting unfair or deceptive assertions in patent demand letters. Under the bill’s language, unfair or deceptive assertions would include:

  • an assertion that falsely threatens administrative or judicial relief will be sought if compensation is not paid or the infringement is not otherwise resolved;
  • an assertion that lacks a reasonable basis in fact or law; and
  • an assertion that is likely to materially mislead a reasonable intended recipient

The bill does not create a private cause of action (i.e. a basis for credit unions to sue patent assertion entities); however, it would provide for enforcement by either the FTC or state attorneys general.

According to its agenda, the Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee is scheduled to take up the bill on Wednesday March 12, 2014.